Next Best Thing

Next Best Thing is a new, limited-run commentary from KMUW. Every other Wednesday, KMUW's Jordan Kirtley will take a look at ways we can stay connected from a far via virtual events and outdoor activities.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Halloween will be here soon, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate outdoors with the little ones:

Courtesy Wichita Symphony

A typical October in Wichita is jam-packed with festivals, fairs and events. Although things are quite different this time, there's still plenty to do outside and online, and some venues are beginning to reopen for in-person events, with certain restrictions in place. 

Jordan Kirtley / KMUW

Now that we've made it through the dog days of summer, I can once again wholeheartedly endorse outdoor activities. Here are some options that allow for social distancing:


As a public radio employee, I’m embarrassed to admit that I just discovered NPR calls it “your evolving guide to feeling human during the COVID-19 pandemic.” I can’t say that it will live up to that description, but clearly we’re all NPR fans here, so I encourage you to check it out.

Courtesy Mark Arts

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the Ulrich Museum of Art’s community billboard project, Ulrich + Artists + You. Hopefully you’ve spotted some billboards around town. The first batch went up July 1 and new artwork will continue to pop up through November 30.


The Ulrich is taking the community aspect of this project seriously by collaborating with several local organizations. Full disclosure: KMUW is one of them.

Courtesy Tallgrass Film Association


For me, and thousands of others, fall in Wichita means it’s time for the Tallgrass Film Festival. 

Courtesy Ulrich Museum of Art

No matter how innovative they are, virtual events will never be as engaging as the real thing. And that’s why this segment is called Next Best Thing, and not Absolute Best Thing. But, virtual programming can be more convenient, and that factors highly into my own decision-making now that I can’t be bothered to change out of sweatpants.


Thankfully, the Orpheum Theatre and the Ulrich Museum of Art have launched some online programming that I’m genuinely looking forward to.


Jordan Kirtley / KMUW

Tuesday, July 14, is the deadline to register to vote in the Kansas Primary. Normally, when election time comes around, the only decision is who to vote for. But this time, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have another factor to seriously consider: how to vote.


The options are: you can vote in-person, either at one of several location when early voting starts or at your designated polling place on Election Day. Or, you can vote in advance by mail.


Produced by Films From Within


The beauty of virtual events is that you can never really miss them. In a lot of cases, there’s not much difference between tuning in live, and watching a video on your own time.

As a public radio listener, I’m sure you’re familiar with NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Everyone has performed there—even the residents of Sesame Street.